BOONE, Iowa – There’s a definite sense of progress in mowing the lawn when the grass has gotten tall. With each pass of the mower, you can clearly see the swaths where you’ve been, and you can clearly see where you still need to go.
Cutting hay is no different. June 25 and 26 in Boone, the Hay and Forage Expo will showcase the newest machinery from Case I-H, Vermeer, New Holland and others, which are still mowing and baling 200 acres of hay and forage crops over what will be the parking lot for the Farm Progress Show later this year.
Drive down just about any highway in Iowa and chances are you’ll see fields of corn and soybeans, but not hay or forage crops like alfalfa. Farm Progress Companies Marketing Specialist Dena Morgan says road visibility probably isn’t the best way to figure out the importance of the hay and forage industry.
“”Iowa is a big cow-calf state,” says Morgan. “There’s still a lot of feeding of cattle that goes on here, and of course more and more technology with cellulosic ethanol plants as well. More and more people are being involved in the hay and forage industry, and want to know how to efficiently harvest that crop; the best way to feed it to their animals, if that’s what they’re going to be doing, or how to sell it to an ethanol plant, to be able to make a profit out of it. So, I think it’s an emerging industry here in Iowa, and of course our exhibitors are going to have the best and newest products [to help] make that easier for farmers in this area.”
Morgan says even for producers farming row crops like corn or soybeans, hay and forage crops can have a place in their operation.
“Farmers want to conserve their waterways,” Morgan explains, “so they’re planting that to grasses, and then go ahead and harvest that too. I think a lot of farmers are going more toward that conservation method, and planting wider waterways, and then using that grass to harvest and then sell that hay crop later in the year.”